I know, hard to believe, but the bison (also known as American Buffalo) on Catalina Island, CA are protected ... in more ways than one! They were first introduced on the island in 1924 for the silent film "The Vanishing American." Fourteen of them. They did not make the final cut for the film, and due to cost over runs, they were abandoned on the island when the filming was done.
Since they had no natural predators, they flourished! Their herd grew up to 600 head! They were never hunted, but for a number of years, the Sioux and Lakota paid for many to be shipped to North and South Dakota where the bison lived out their natural lives in the cold climes of those reservation lands.
Conservationists have calculated that the island, just 22 miles long by 8 miles wide, can support a herd of 150 bison. Recently, a new birth control vaccine has been given to the females which limits their fertility without interfering with the natural reproductive cycles.
I saw the herd last weekend while on a trip to the island. Up near the airport where my husband and I waited for the marine layer to lift so that we could take off to come back home, they grazed on the browning grasses. Sadly, they were too far away for this sketch, which I did using a taxidermy stuffed head above the fireplace in the lobby at the Airport in the Sky.